Marine Corps Marathon
October 29, 2006
Race Report by Bob Dolphin
On Sunday, October 29, 2006, the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) fielded the largest group of participants in its 31 year history, making it the fourth largest marathon in the United States. The entrant total was reported to be 32,000, and there were 20,934 finishers who crossed the timing mat near the Marine Corps Memorial. In comparison, there had been 17,007 finishers when I first ran the MCM in 2000.
The race has a solid reputation for being well-organized with military precision by race director Rick Nealis, a former U.S. Marine Corps major, and his staff who are assisted by active duty Marine volunteers.
The course was very scenic as it provided a tour of Memorials, Government Buildings, and parks in Washington, D.C., and adjacent Virginia.
This was my 7th consecutive MCM, and I hope to continue my string for many years to come. At this great race I can refresh the memories of my six and a half years of service in the Marine Corps in the post World War II and Korean War periods.
In the race and associated functions there were constant reminders that we are at war again. This was especially evident as I noticed campaign ribbons on uniformed Marines who have served in Iraq. Then in the race I read the backs of T-shirts where hundreds of runners who passed me had identified their military branches or previous service if they were retired. Dedication to overseas service members was commonplace, and some runners named a serviceman or servicewoman who had been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. This had a sobering effect as I read the messages.
It was appropriate that the race was won by a military person. For the second consecutive year Corporal Ruben Garcia, 35, of the Mexican Navy had that distinction. At the start, four Kenyan team members took off together, and Ruben couldn't match their pace. As he trailed them for miles, he expected to lose. However, he tried to run every mile under a 5:30 pace until Mile 21. Then he moved to a 5:00 minute pace, took the lead and won the marathon in a time of 2:21:20. In second place was Carl Rundell, 38, of Birmingham, Michigan, who ran a 2:24:22. He was followed by third place finisher Jose Miranda, 35, of Mexico City with a 2:26:24.
Laura Thompson, 31, of Boise, Idaho, didn't expect to be the women's winner, but she won anyway! Her overall sub-seven-minute pace gave her a finish time of 3:00:22 that was good enough for first place. Finishing in second and third place were Brenda Schrank, 34, of Winchester, Virginia, with a 3:02:34 and Suzanne Himes, 37, of Virginia Beach, Virginia close behind with a 3:02:56 in a tight race.
Congratulation to Marathon Maniac Dane Rauschenberg, 30, from Arlington, Virginia, whose home is at Mile 2 on the marathon course. He's running 50 marathons in 2006 and is holding up well as he ran a 3:03:57 to raise funds for his favorite charity. Recently, at the Niagara Falls Marathon he ran his first sub-three-hour marathon in 2:59:48 for a new Personal Record.
Congratulations, also, to Marathon Maniac Kent Sizer, 51, of Renton, Washington, for running a 3:05:11, one of the best times for a runner from our state!
The moderate weather and temperatures in the 50's and 60's made it a good day for running. At times there was a cooling breeze or a tailwind that helped. I ran the first 20 miles, shifted to a run/walk for 5K and then walked the last 5K to finish in 5:28:36, 16,921 overall (of 20,394) and second of five in the 75+ Male Division.
I was met at the finish line by Marathon Maniac Terry Sentinella, 42, race director of the Skagit Flats Marathon at Burlington, WA, and a megamarathoner who had just completed a busy marathon weekend double. On Saturday, October 28, 2006, he ran the inaugural Ridge to Bridge Marathon at Morganton, North Carolina, in a time of 3:01:11. He placed 4th of 40 finishers overall on a difficult mountainous course.
After a 7-hour drive to Alexandria, Virginia, and a good night's sleep, he met us at our Alexandria motel the next morning. He was ready for his 2nd marathon in two days and finished the MCM in 3:14:10. Two marathons in two days with great times!!
In the days before the marathon there had been a flurry of activities for Lenore and me. On Thursday evening we joined Renee & Clark Dexter and Michaela & Pete Gaaserud at a restaurant in historic Old Town Alexandria for dinner. Renee and Michaela are the publishers of From Fairbanks to Boston - 50 Great U.S. Marathons for which I authored the chapter on the Yakima River Canyon Marathon.
On Friday morning we visited the D.C. Armory, site of packet pickup, the Expo and seminars. Then on Friday and Saturday afternoons we attended the MCM Boot Camp for race directors and managers at the race headquarters Hyatt Hotel on Capitol Hill.
It was good to see and visit with John Elliott of MarathonGuide.com; Julian Smith, director of the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston, South Carolina; Bob Lehew, director of the Oklahoma Marathon at Tulsa; Larry Herman of the Frederick Marathon in Frederick, Maryland; Dan Ashworth of Ashworth Awards (supplier of the MCM awards); Tom Cox of Sureship (supplier of the MCM T-shirts); David Deigan of AFM/nc (supplier of the heat sheets); Mark Knutson, director of the Fargo Marathon in Fargo, North Dakota; and others.
As Boot Camp participants, we had received invitations to attend the MCM Hall of Fame Friday night dinner at Maggiano's Little Italy Restaurant in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and the second seating of the Saturday Carbo Dinner with great entertainment at the Hyatt Hotel.
We had another great MCM weekend, and we look forward to my 8th consecutive Marine Corps Marathon on October 28, 2007. Thanks go to Rick Nealis, his staff and the volunteers for hosting one of the best marathons that I run each year.
Written by Bob Dolphin
Edited, Typed and Distributed by Lenore Dolphin